visual effects with Mike Connor

Together with Mike Connor we have worked on many different film projects over the last 30 years; our respective and complimentary experiences in both production and post production have given us time and time again the possibility to offer cost effective high quality solutions for visual effects. This has led to us designing the Mobile Digital Lab to enable more efficient post production and visual effects on set.

Out of some 450 visual effects shots the piano dance sequence was particularly stimulating. In this, the ship's grand piano was moved by grips dressed with green costumes who pulled or pushed the piano together with the two protagonists so that the grips were always behind the protagonists and piano in the 23 shots that we had broken the sequence into.  

A pre time coded playback track fired off the motion control so that each sequence could be played in playback accurately by Tim Roth, and we shot empty plates of the background without the piano and actors so that post production was simply made up of multiple synchronised multi layers.

to the left: Tim Roth, the film's main actor, discussing a scene with Giuseppe Tornatore on the floating set in the Black Sea just out of the port of Odessa, Ukraine.  That is me on the left.

Me leaning on Mike Connor's Motion Control with extended arm, on the set of Renzo Martinelli's film "Vajont" (at the top of the page).

To create the dam for Vajont, I suggested creating a 1/8th segment of the dam, mounting it on semi-circular rails with the same width and radius as the real dam, and then shooting it in eight different positions with the same motion control movements.


In agreement with set designer Francesco Friggeri, all this was done close to the real location, so that the backgrounds were shot mainly with the actors on set and did not require green screens overall.


This also meant that the extras could be multiplied to give the illusion that hundreds of workers were engaged in the construction and completion of the dam.


Two segments of the dam were made, one for the dam under construction and the other with the dam completed. The lower part of the dam was made by extension in cgi.

Stills from "The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean" courtesy of New Line & Medusa

Mike's Motion Control rig - shown here with  with extended arm.

We used the system for The "Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean" and the film" Vajont"


Following on from a presentation of our capabilities that Gillo Pontecorvo had asked us to do for the Venice Film Festival, the first director to become interested in our virtual set solutions was Giuseppe Tornatore. He explained to us that he wanted to make his upcoming film "The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean" look as though it had been produced with a substantially high International budget, while in reality it only had a relatively modest budget. The sets of ports and the ship were to be made as virtual sets, thereby saving significant construction costs.               

Thanks to RAI Cinema & Martinelli Film for the stills

Mike is director of photography in 5K and 8K son the film "My Story" based on the life story of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. The film, directed by Ahmed Kamel was a world first to go through the Mobile Digital Lab.

Me supervising visual effects with my assistant Ashish Tyaghi for the Rose Movies production "Drona" in Rajasthan, Northern India.

Me grading colour and stereo 3d together in Genoa, as this technique offers the best results for 3d films. I made some tests for an important director, who exclamed when seeing the results of 20 different scenes "They look like Caravaggio paintings".

Mike is director of photography of the short film "Appasionata". The short won an Oscar as Best Foreign Film in the Long Island Festival Short Film Festival. It has also been shown in some 29 festivals around the world, including Shanghai.

Mike shooting a film about recruiting for the Swedish Air Force. The producer was

Patrick von Faber-Castel of "Travel to Romantis".

An example of saving construction costs by using virtual sets. This was for Florestano Vancini's "E' Ridendo l'uccise".

We didn't have the comfort of Motion Control for moving the camera, but the genius chief grip Luigi Rocchietti using a Black and Decker drill and a large elastic band, made a makeshift "motion control" that governed the wheels of the old Arri style head to satisfy the director's desire to have camera movement on the scene.  

This photograph shows me and Francesca Rotondo working on solving the problem with Luigi's help. We were looked on as being mad to start with...